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The Latest from Iran (21 August): Nuclear Games and Questions

2140 GMT: Bushehr Games. The Israeli Government has denounced the introduction of uranium rods into Iran's first nuclear plant. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy said:
It is totally unacceptable that a country that so blatantly violates resolutions of theSecurity Council, decisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its commitments under the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) should enjoy the fruits of using nuclear energy. The international community should increase pressure on to force Iran to abide by international decisions and cease its enrichment activities and its construction of reactors.

[Editor's Note: Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.]

1850 GMT: Why Can't We Be Friends? Looks like Britain has got an unexpected round of applause from Iran's state media.

Earlier today Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt put out the statement, "The loading of Russian fuel into the Bushehr nuclear power reactor demonstrates that Iran can have the benefits of nuclear power. We have always respected Iran's right to develop an exclusively civil nuclear power programme."

Press TV found a reason to be cheerful: "UK: Iran Entitled to Peaceful N Energy".

However, the Iranian website did not mention the next sentence of Burt's statement: "The problem is Iran's continued refusal to satisfy the IAEA and international community that its work on uranium enrichment and heavy water projects are exclusively peaceful."

NEW Iran Video: BBC Interview with Human Rights Lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei
Iran Document & Analysis: Supreme Leader’s Speech on US-Iran Relations & Internal Situation (18 August)
Iran: Obama Administration Dampens Down War Chatter (Mazzetti/Sanger)
The Latest from Iran (21 August): Khamenei v. Ahmadinejad?

1840 GMT: Tough Talk Today (cont.). Brigadier General Yadollah Javani waves at the US and Israel, "Should the enemy make this mistake [of attacking Iran], the Islamic Republic is capable of defending itself beyond its borders and of putting the interests of the enemies in jeopardy."

Javani said the test-firing of the new surface-to-surface missile, Qiam 1, "demonstrate[d] Tehran's military might to the enemies".

1505 GMT: Family Matters. Zahra Rahnavard has strongly condemned the "Family Protection" bill, urging Parliament to reject it, as she claims that it gives more power to men to be polygamous without the knowledge of a wife and harshly discriminates against women. Rahnavard asserted, "Striking the so-called 'Family Protection bill from Parliament's agenda is not a feminist demand but rather is a symbol of national demand for the prosperity of the Iranian nation and the stability of Iranian families."

1425 GMT: Shutting Down Politics. The Ministry of Interior has re-confirmed that the Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mojadehin of Islamic Revolution party are now illegal.

1420 GMT: The Human Rights Lawyer. We have posted the video of BBC HARDTalk's interview with lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who recently had to leave Iran to avoid arrest.

1320 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (The Lawsuit Against Nokia Siemens). CNN has picked up on the story of the lawsuit of detained journalist Isa Saharkhiz and his son Mehdi against Nokia Siemens Networks for sale and provision of technology used by the Iranian Government for surveillance (see 0835 GMT).

1315 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Hamed Omidid, a technology student at Allameh University, has been sentenced to three years in prison for assembly and conspiracy against national security.

Omided was detained on 10 February during a Tehran University protest of the execution of Ehsan Fattahian. He was given the maximum sentence become he was in the front row of demonstrators. He has also been banned from continuing his studies.

1310 GMT: Tough Talk Today. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, talking to Qatari daily Al-Sharq, on the response if Iran is attacked:
Our options will have no limits....They will touch the entire planet....I believe that some think about attacking Iran, especially those within the Zionist entity. But they know that Iran is an indestructible bulwark and I do not think their American masters will let them do it. They also know that the Iranian response will be hard and painful.

1130 GMT: Sanctions Watch (US-Turkey Edition). The Turkish daily Hurriyet follows up the story that a US delegation from the State and Treasury Departments have warned that Turkish companies that continue their relations with Iran in defiance of sanctions risk breaking business ties with the US.

The delegation reportedly stated it will enforce sanctions against Turkish organizations investing in Iran’s energy sector and selling petroleum products to Tehran.

The US Embassy's spokeswoman said, “A group visited this week from the Treasury Department and discussed the new U.S. legislation on the UN’s decision [to impose] sanctions against Iran. There are Turkish companies that want to do business with the United States and they should be aware of the latest law."

1120 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Professor Hadi Hakim-Shafaei has been given a three-year sentence for acting against national security, insulting the Supreme Leader, and carrying out anti-regime propaganda.

Hakim-Shafaei was detained on 11 February and held for 30 days, 15 in solitary confinement, before being released on $50,000 bail. He has also been banned from teaching .

1015 GMT: Nuclear Hype. Amidst a slow news day in Iran, The Daily Telegraph uses the Bushehr nuclear plant as an excuse for a blatant distortion of an article.

The Telegraph lifts the comment from Gary Samore, President Obama's advisor on nuclear proliferation, in The New York Times article that we noted yesterday: "The process of converting nuclear material into a weapon that worked would take at least 12 months."

Setting aside the fact that Bushehr has nothing to do with a possible military programme, the Telegraph ignores the context of Samore's comment, which was part of an Obama Administration pushback against talk of an Israeli airstrike on Iran. Instead, the headline in the Telegraph turns Samore's intervention into the pressure for such action: "Iran '12 Months from Nuclear Weapon' US Warns as Bushehr Reactor Started".

0835 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (The Lawsuit Against Nokia Siemens). Cyrus Farivar, writing for Deutsche Welle, follows up on this week's story that detained journalist Isa Saharkhiz and his son Mehdi have filed a lawsuit in US Federal Court against Nokia Siemens Networks, alleging that the Finnish-Germany company sold and provided equipment used by the Iranian Government for surveillance of dissidents:
Testifying before a European Parliament committee on human rights over two months ago, Nokia executive Barry French said his company had sold "roughly one third of the deployed capacity" for mobile and data service to two major Iranian mobile operators, MCI and Irancell.

As part of these networks, Nokia Siemens provided a "lawful interception capability to both operators" and "a related monitoring center to MCI."

But Herischi, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, alleged that Nokia Siemens either knew or should have known that lawful interception in Iran does not conform to international standards.

"Lawful interception is required for every network," he said. "And that's what we're asking. The one that Iran used was unlawful interception with the same device, and they knew that it was going to be used unlawfully."

Nokia Siemens on Friday expanded on their previous statements concerning the US lawsuit, saying that it was "brought in the wrong place, against the wrong party, and on the wrong premise."

"The Saharkhizes allege brutal treatment by the government in Iran, but they have not sued that government," the company wrote on its Web site. "Instead, they are seeking to blame Nokia Siemens Networks for the acts of the Iranian authorities by filing a lawsuit in the US, a country that has
absolutely no connection to the issues they are raising."

0750 GMT: Over-the-Top Headline of the Day. I guess, since everyone from New York to Jerusalem is leading with the Bushehr nuclear plant story, you have to dare to be different, but the BBC may have un-distinguished itself: "Will Fuelling The Bushehr Reactor Give Iran The Bomb?"

(The answer is No.)

0715 GMT: No doubt what the lead story will be in Iranian state media and "Western" press today, from Press TV to Reuters to The New York Times to The Jerusalem Post.

After years of delays, the first uranium rods will be loaded into Iran's first nuclear plant at Bushehr. State television is showing live pictures of the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, and his Russian counterpart watching the process.

We're going to buck the trend. For EA, the curious tale is why President Ahmadinejad apparently contradicted the Supreme Leader over Iran's position on talks with the US on uranium enrichment. On Thursday, Ahamadinejad told a Japanese newspaper that discussions could begin within weeks; less than 24 hours earlier, Ayatollah Khamenei had ruled out any negotiations unless the US pulled back on sanctions against Tehran.

There's an important context, indeed precedent, for the story. Last autumn, it was Ahmadinejad who was pushing for a deal with the US and other countries, all the way to the Geneva talks in October. One of  the reasons why those discussions, the first direct public contact with Washington in years, stalled was because of the opposition of not only the Supreme Leader but also key political figures such as Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.

So, given the growing tensions within the Iranian political elite --- tensions highlighted by both the Supreme Leader and the leader of Tehran Friday Prayers this week --- are the nuclear talks again intersecting with power plays in Tehran?

Reader Comments (13)

We have two options :
-Either AN is really against SL and as soon as he will make a "coup d'état" to take the rule of country in his possession; he's a liberal and during all those years he has had this plan to reach his purpose getting rid of the clergy;
-Or it's a common plan of both of them, and like during the questioning in police office, one plays the mad man and the other the nice one ! it's a game so that, without being humiliated , they accept finally the international request because they are obliged to do so if not they will loose everything due to sanctions !

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

NPR's Robert Siegel had a conversation with Jon Lee Anderson ("After The Crackdown" in The New Yorker) and Jeffrey Goldberg ("The Point of No Return", The Atlantic' cover story). Most interesting was what Jon Lee Anderson had to say about his impressions of Ahmadinejad (note the nationalistic "We are Iran" comments AN makes):

SIEGEL: In your article, John Lee Anderson, "After the Crackdown," you asked President Ahmadinejad and other members of the Iranian regime about all of this. Do they think they're on a collision course with Israel?

Mr. ANDERSON: Yes, although President Ahmadinejad and one his senior advisors both pooh-poohed the notion that the United States was still capable of launching an effective military strike against Iran. Ahmadinejad actually derisively pointed to both the military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples of the American failure in the region. And said not only the United States or Israel, but nobody can touch Iran. We are Iran, he said, and repeated it twice.

ANDERSON: He seemed to have a great deal of self-faith, and a sense that they were now on a push to steer the West, steer Obama towards a dialogue in which they could extract some sort of compromise.

SIEGEL: Did you come away from your interview with Ahmadinejad, or for that matter, with other Iranian officials, with the sense that they at least think they have a fix on whats going on in the United States or are they wildly off in what they make of this discussion here?

ANDERSON: I came away feeling quite depressed, actually, from this trip to Iran. I felt that they are under the misapprehension, based upon Ahmadinejad's really telescopic, or I should say periscopic, notion of what the West is and of U.S. thinking, based upon these annual trips he makes to the U.N. General Assembly, where he holds kind of roundtable but, you know, rather stilted roundtable discussions with handpicked academics and a few members of the media, and these one-on-ones we've become familiar seeing with various American anchors. And in which he feels he has taken America's measure.

And I do feel that they have lived so long in this bubble that theyve passed the moment at which Iran actually is at threat from the United States and Israel. I came away very worried that because of that, that we were more likely to go towards confrontation than come away from it. I hope Im wrong. But thats the feeling I was given, through my interviews with Ahmadinejad and his officials when I left Iran." rel="nofollow">

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Newspaper Mardom Salari says actors, singers, poets and writers banned from television over support for opposition

Celebrities in Iran are getting blacklisted from the little screen by the government just as the big Ramadan television season gets underway. The moderate daily newspaper Mardom Salari printed a list of singers, poets, actors and other celebrities it claims have been banned from appearing on television for supporting the political opposition known as the "green movement."

In the past, cultural authorities have denied the existence of such a list, but the report includes the names of many high-profile figures.
Read all about it:" rel="nofollow">

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Nobel Peace Laureate Appeals On Behalf Of Iran's Political Prisoners
Ebadi said concern over Iran's disputed nuclear program should not eclipse the problem of human rights in that country. She also told the conference that political prisoners in Iran "are treated even worse than drug traffickers."" rel="nofollow">

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Scott, may I suggest that you are misreading Khamenei's speech - and in this case, not "bucking" the "received wisdom" from US commentariat. Like most US pundits, you are over-relying on perceived domestic politics in assessing Iran's foreign policy culture.... Khamene'i neither now nor last January ruled out talks with the US. He's repeated and updated the old Khomeini theme of not having talks between "lion and lamb," but insisted that for the talks to go forward, they have to be on equal footing.... not bullying or being under constant threats....

Ahmadinejad says the same thing -- that the talks must be with "respect." The green wave etc. would also all say the same thing....

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterescot h


For me, there may be a difference in context here. Khamene'i's speech on Wednesday comes after the latest round of sanctions and, given his specific reference to those sanctions, that would appear to put a pre-condition on any talks. I did not see that precondition in Ahmadinejad's statement.

There may be nuance here --- Catherine's point on Ahmadinejad pointing to "immediate" talks on a fuel swap with Khamenei setting lines for any further discussions on Iran's ability to enrich uranium --- but I would think (unless US is getting private clarification from Tehran) that there is good possibility of confusion here.


August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScottLucas11

Scott, much agreed on the many possibilities of "confusion" and nuance here, and clarification no doubt needed, even if behind the scenes. I recently was reading transcripts of Ahmadinejad's Hamedan and other early August speeches.... Those came before Khamenei's recent speech.... and had many of the same complaints and "bravado" re. the US, sanctions, bullying, self-reliance, etc... and yet nonetheless, the talk about renewing talks was there too. Much for us to consider -- a few "angels" might be lurking in the marginal details.

About the internal divides, I'd much concede that any breakthrough that A/N might take credit for could be a source of heartburn and grumbling in rival circles..... even as, bottom line, where can they go on this one? Your highlighting yesterday of Khamenei's apparent cautions ... might well speak to this too. We shall see.

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterescot h

Amazingly, with every headline about Iran fueling its first nuclear power plant, today's LA Times editorial is about Iran's barbaric human rights violations in general and stoning and the Ashtiani case in particular.

Iran's barbaric side
The execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is on hold. But until Iran ends the practice of stoning and insists on equal justice for women, it will not be rid of international censure." rel="nofollow">

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

RE : "The Ministry of Interior has re-confirmed that the Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mojadehin of Islamic Revolution party are now illegal."

Once again I was so optimistic and I have made a mistake; we can't rely on AN to have a democratic country !

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

RE: Zahra Rahnavard has strongly condemned the “Family Protection” bill, urging Parliament to reject it, ... Rahnavard asserted, “Striking the so-called ‘Family Protection bill from Parliament’s agenda is not a feminist demand but rather is a symbol of national demand for the prosperity of the Iranian nation and the stability of Iranian families.”

This is not true. Striking the so-called ‘Family Protection bill from Parliament’s agenda has been a feminist demand for years.

Feminist School: Sunday 31st of August 2008, group representing the women activists against the “Family protection Bill” met with the members of the Iranian parliament. The proposal to meet the MPs was reached with Shirin Ebadi by different women organizations which was represented as a united front against the discriminatory laws.
More:" rel="nofollow">

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

[...] The Latest from Iran (21 August): Nuclear Games as well as Questions … // [...]

Israel says Iranian reactor use "totally unacceptable"" rel="nofollow">

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi says the country's "dynamic" defense industry has the capacity to supply arms to more than 50 other states. "Now, more than ever, we are vigorously standing up to arrogant regimes,"" rel="nofollow">

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

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